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This Flavor Is Ocean

この味は海
by Yumi Fuzuki
Translated from Japanese by
Jordan A. Y. Smith
Issue 29 Online Exclusive

潮のかおりをまとうため
今夜、私は波を呼びよせる。
こみあげる熱に追いつきたくて
胸ふくらませ、息を継ぐ。
のど奥にまどろむこの味を
海と決めたから。
染みるように辛からいあのしずくは、
私をけして甘やかさない。

「泣きなさい」
職員室のぼんやりとした窓明かりの下、先生は告げる。
「泣けば、楽になる。泣けば大きくなれる。
泣けば、あたらしいあなたが生まれるのよ」
「あたらしい私なんて生まれてほしくありません」
「でも、海はあたらしいあなたを運んでくるの。
だから、しっかりと波を重ねなさい」
先生はそう言って、早退届に赤い印を押した。

「涙が成長を促進させるのですよ」
黒板に描かれた座標軸が脈打ち、さざ波として押し寄せてくる。制服を波
に手放し、私はむき出しで抗っていく。泳ぎ切ろうと身を反らす。涙に養
われてきたわけではないはずだ。負けないために噛みしめてきたこの味だ
もの。
先生、私は苦しいものを背負っていたい。
溺れることなど演じられない。
首にかけていた制服の青いリボンをすくい上げ、
一息にほどき去る。
潮風に手放した。

この目から逃げるように落ちたしずくは
パジャマの膝をひやりと濡らす。
これは、波を手招く儀式なのだ。
私は手首に、ももに、右肩に
ひとしずく ひとしずく
確かめるように産み落とす。
湿った頬をシーツに押しつければ
ベッドに潮が満ちてくる。

 

In order to don the scent of saltwater,
Tonight, I summon the waves.
Yearning to overtake the fever rising
I puff out my chest, gulping my breath.
Because I have elected to name this flavor
Sleeping deep in my throat: ocean.
The piercing spice of those droplets
Certainly will not spoil me.

“Cry!”
Under the hazy window light of the faculty room, the teacher tells me.
“If you cry, it’ll ease the pain. If you cry, you’ll grow up.
If you cry, a new you will be born.”
“I don’t want some new me to be born.”
“But the ocean will come to carry the new you.”
So pile those waves up securely,”
Said the teacher, stamping his red seal on the early dismissal form.

“Waves accelerate the growing up process, you know.”
Pounding the coordinate axis drawn on the blackboard, the ripples advancing on me. Releasing my school uniform from my grip to the waves, baring myself in defiance. Struggling to swim through, my body arches. I can’t have been raised by tears. Surely, it was by the way I fought against losing by biting deep into this flavor.
Teacher, I want to carry the suffering.
I can’t playact at drowning and such.
I fished out the blue ribbon I had draped about my neck with my uniform,
Untying it with a twist.
I release it into the salty sea breeze.

The drops that fell as though to flee my gaze
Spread wet chill into the knee of my pajamas.
This: the ritual of beckoning tears.
As though to validate it,
Single drop after single drop,
Born falling onto my wrist, thigh, right shoulder.
Pressing my damp cheek into the sheets,
The bed swells a salty tide.

____

 

Fuzuki Yumi,“This Flavor Is Ocean” from Far Deeper than the Rooftops. Tokyo: Shichōsha, 2013.

Author
Fuzuki Yumi (b. 1991) is one of the youngest recipients of the Gendai Shi Techō Prize, the Nakahara Chūya Prize (both while still in high school), and the Maruyama Yutaka Memorial Modern Poetry Prize (2010). In addition to five critically-acclaimed volumes of poetry and essays, Fuzuki stays active with radio/television appearances, collaborations with dancers, fashion designers, artists, and poets. Her 2009 collection, In this Suitable World, This Unsuitable Me, has also been published in Finnish.
Translator
Jordan A. Y. Smith is a translator, poet, and Associate Professor of Japanese literature and comparative literature/cultural studies at Josai International University. He has translated poetry by Yoshimasu Gōzō, Saihate Tahi, Mizuta Noriko, Nomura Kiwao, Misumi Mizuki, and fiction from Alberto Fuguet and Fernando Iwasaki. Co-author of the poetry collection, √IC: Redux, with Nagae Yūki and Kanie Naha. He previously taught at CSU Long Beach, UCLA, Roger Williams University, Pepperdine University, and Korea University.